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There are plenty of advertising salespeople who are happy to take your money, but where is the best place to fritter your advertising budget?  It is always a matter for debate but here, to answer many of your questions, some of my thoughts on the subject ...

Go for a bargain

With so many people struggling, there are plenty of advertising bargains to be had at the moment.  You simply have to shop around, and negotiate the price down.  Push hard for a good deal and hint that if your adverts are successful, you could become a long-term advertiser with a particular publication.  Small privately owned and local newspapers and magazines are good media to target, but even the big nationals and the glossy high street magazines should be open to negotiation at the moment. Just go for it...

Use an effective medium

Learn to discriminate between a deal for the sake of getting a bargain and using an appropriate medium to reach your potential customers.  It should go without saying that you should advertise your products and services in a relevant publication -- one that can reach as many potential customers as possible for the least amount of money.

Online marketing can be a very cost-effective way of advertising your business and plenty of other people think so too, with Internet advertising up by 4.5% last year.  According to recent research, Internet advertising is worth over £15 billion this year from banner advertising, search engine marketing and e-mail.  It is also easier to track and monitor the response to your campaign than it is with traditional marketing methods, so Internet marketing should be high on everyone's marketing strategies list.

E-mail marketing

E-mail marketing is an extremely cheap way to advertise.  For a start, you can avoid printing, packaging and mailing costs.  E-mail marketing can also be achieved quickly and for free when you have your own list of subscribers.  Even working with a joint venture partner or renting a list can work out much cheaper than a traditional mailshot.  The results are generally much quicker as well -- you can monitor your click-through rate within hours, whereas with traditional direct mail marketing, results can take weeks to come in.

E-mail marketing can also be the basis of a fantastically profitable viral marketing campaign.  Create some extraordinary benefit that people will want to pass on to their friends and family and your marketing message can spread like ripples in a pond.

I would recommend e-mail marketing to almost everyone.  If you have a website, you can instantly direct people to it with a link.  If you don't have a website, you can still use e-mail marketing in your campaign -- simply create an E-brochure with your marketing message and give your phone number or other contact details so that people can get further information or place an order.  I have to say, though, it is so cheap and easy these days to set up a simple website that you are seriously missing out if you don't have one.  Customers these days expect practically every business to have a website.

Marketing via the search engines

The great thing about marketing via the search engines is that people are actually looking for what you have to offer -- you just have to get to the top of the list and get seen.  The best way, if unfortunately the slowest, is to spend time building links with other websites and work on optimising your website.  However, if you are in a hurry, you can use pay-per-click marketing on any of the popular search engines.  The great thing about pay-per-click is that you only pay for your advertising when someone clicks on to your website.  It's not the most trusted method of advertising, but it can work.  Spend some time getting the right keywords and test, test, test before you roll out your campaign.

With the Internet, you can also use social networking to get your marketing message across -- it's not a quick fix but if you are in it for the long haul, you should certainly consider using social media marketing to promote your business.  Just make sure you create subtle messages in blogs, forums and so on, as blatant marketing is frowned upon.  The same goes for social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Banner adverts

It has been a matter for debate as to whether banner adverts actually work.  They certainly have a very low click through rate. However, when you consider how many major players are using banner advertising, I would suggest that they can be effective over the long term.  Banner advertising can go a long way to promoting your brand, and possibly making sales.

The main thing with banner advertising is to get your banners onto the most relevant sites.  Analyse very carefully who your potential customers are and target them precisely.  Banner advertising costs money, so it makes sense to do your homework first and continually track, monitor and analyse the response.  Be prepared to abandon your advertising if it is simply not bringing in the results you are hoping for.

Finally, don't forget to use all the cheap and free methods of marketing that you possibly can, and don't ditch the old tried and tested traditional methods either -- there is still a place for advertising in print, on radio and TV as well as direct mail.

Good luck!!